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Sewer back-up case will go forward despite defects in notice to County

Several families, including the Dybatas, Brownings and Olivers, suffered damage to their homes when a Wayne County sewer system failed under a heavy rain.  There is a specific statute that allows similarly-affected homeowners to sue the governmental entity, provided that they follow the proper procedures.  Those procedures are defined by statute and require written notice of the claim within 45 days.  The statute also requires the municipal authority to provide identified homeowners with information on where and how to file a claim. 

In this case, arising out of a heavy rainstorm in Dearborn Heights, the Court held that simply notifying the County that individual homeowners were affected by the incident did not meet the requirement for "notice of a claim."  Nevertheless, the cases were allowed to go forward because the County did not respond to the lists of affected homeowners by providing them with the statutorily-required information on where and how a claim must be filed. 

The County argued that since it collected lists of affected homeowners from the City, it was not obligated to provide the listed homeowners with the statutory information:  the Court of Appeals disagreed.  It ruled, in essence, that the City was the homeowners' agent in providing the County with identification that clearly originated with the homeowners, themselves.

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